Bucks and Hornets: NBA Paris
NBA Europe is coming back. For the past several years the NBA has played, to great success, several games in Europe. Usually, the league likes to the pit a marquee matchup. This year, however, the NBA is putting up one of its juggernauts against a bottom feeder.
The Milwaukee Bucks finished last season with the best record in the NBA and were an amazing Kawhi Leonard run away from reaching their first NBA finals since 1973. This year it is much of the same with the Bucks. Led by Giannis Antetokpunmpo, the Bucks are third in NBA Betting odds for the NBA title at +350.
The Bucks lead the Eastern Conference again and they have the best record in the NBA once again. The reigning MVP, Antetokpunmpo, is looking like he will add another MVP award to his trophy case.
On the opposite side of the Bucks is the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets have been bad again this year. The Hornets have lost 2 out of every 3 games and lost their one marquee all-star in Kemba Walker to Boston. Should the Hornets fail to win 42 games this season it will 12th time in 15 seasons that they finished .500 or below.
When the Bucks and the Hornets meet in Paris, France, on January 24th, it will be a literal David vs Goliath match up. The Bucks blew out the Hornets in their first meeting on November 30th by the score of 137-96. Nine different Bucks scored in double figures in that game including Antetokpunmpo, who had a game high 26-points. The Bucks have won three straight vs the Hornets and 8 of the last 12 matchups.
Do not expect an upset from this game. The Hornets are struggling as of late and following some early season success Devonte Graham has come down to Earth recently. He has failed to score 20+ points in 8 of his last 12 games, including a 4-point stinker in a game at Utah. The Hornets have also lost 13 of their last 15 games.
The Bucks have won 7-straight and 39 of the 45 games they have played this season. The Bucks have also not lost consecutive games this season
This game will be a blowout with the Bucks starters resting most of their starters in the fourth quarter. The fans in Paris will get NBA basketball, unfortunately it will not be good NBA basketball.
The NBA has been playing games outside the US and Canada since 1978, when the defending NBA champion Washington Bullets lost to Tel Aviv 98-97. in an exhibition game. The NBA continued exhibition into the 1980s. As part of a global peace effort by the Reagan Administration the Atlanta Hawks played a Soviet Union team in Moscow in 1988, becoming one of the only professional American teams to ever play in the USSR.
The first regular season game between two NBA teams not played in North America happened in 1991 when the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz played two games in Tokyo with the teams splitting the series 1-1.
As global popularity of the NBA grew with the Dream Team, so did the number of NBA games outside North America. Most the games where preseason games but starting in 2013 the NBA made an effort to have regular season games scheduled outside North America every season. As of 2020 there have been regular season games played in Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom and the Bucks vs Bobcats game will add France to that list. Preseason games have been played in 15 countries. The NBA recently added India to the list in 2019 and there are talks about adding games in Australia, Africa and Brazil in the near future,
This marks the 4th international game for the Milwaukee Bucks. They split a preseason series in 2008 with the Warriors in China, and lost a regular season game to the Knicks in London in 2015. This is also the fourth time the Hornets have played internationally, all the way back in 1994, before their hiatus, they lost a preseason game to the Warriors in Paris and in 2015 they split a preseason series with the Clippers in China.